My life changed when I set foot on Oak Island, and my story is not unique. Many scared, anxious campers and staff (like myself) in the past have signed up for Laketrails without really understanding what it actually was they were signing up for.
I knew it was going to be beautiful, but I did not expect breathtaking sunrises and sunsets every day, water so smooth it becomes impossible to tell where the water stops and the sky begins, nor did I expect thunderstorms that were so majestic they ceased to be scary.
I knew the staff at Laketrails was going to be goofy, but I did not expect so many high- skilled pranks, intricately designed skit characters, nor did I expect the level guides went to to make campers laugh and feel comfortable.
I knew the trips were going to be challenging, but I did not expect that there would be entire days of canoeing in straight headwinds, that I would have to become an expert in starting fires in the pouring rain, nor did I expect that I would have to be paddling through huge squalls in the middle of the lake.
I knew I would grow, but I did not expect to gain so much self-confidence and pride in my many accomplishments, nor did I expect the feeling of empowerment when I got back from my first trip, like I could do anything I set my mind to.
I knew I would make friendships, but I did not expect the level of closeness I felt with my campers and fellow staff after each trip, the depth of friendship I have with my fellow staff after living an entire summer on an island together, nor did I expect the amount of respect and admiration I have for my boss, Sue, who teaches her staff each summer so much more than how to survive a week in the woods with campers.
I left Laketrails as a whole new person. I gained so many skills, friends, and became empowered through facing the challenges of working with a team in the wilderness, and I am not unique. Everyone who comes through Laketrails is touched, by the beauty, by the people, by their own growth. I am so incredibly grateful that I have spent three summers on that special island.
If your story is like mine, PLEASE spread the word. Let’s foster another generation of nature-lovers. All teenagers deserve to have experiences like I (we) had so they can become well-rounded adults who will care for and protect our sacred Lake of the Woods and Laketrails.
I love you, my Laketrails family. I will think of you when I look at the beautiful moon we share.
by Krista Goodman, former Laketrails Guide